New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state undercounted nursing home deaths due to federal guidance during a press conference Friday.
Cuomo’s administration revealed on Thursday that at least 12,743 nursing home residents had died from COVID-19 as of Jan. 19, a figure nearly 50% larger than the official tally of 8,505 deaths reported by the New York State Department of Health that day, according to the Associated Press.
The revelation came in response to a report from New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday showing that her investigation found that the NYSDOH undercounted nursing home deaths in the state by as much as 50%.
“The State Department of Health followed federal guidance. If you think there was a mistake, then go talk to the federal government,” Cuomo said Friday. “It’s not about pointing fingers or blame, this became a political football.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in May that the NYSDOH changed its reporting guidelines for nursing home fatalities around May 3. Prior to that date, the state was reporting COVID-19 deaths for all nursing home residents regardless of whether the patient died at the facility or at a hospital.
Beginning around May 3, however, the NYSDOH changed its reporting to disclose nursing home fatalities from COVID-19 only for patients who died while physically present at their facility.
The change artificially decreased the percentage of New York’s known COVID-19 deaths from nursing home residents in comparison to other states with large outbreaks, which continued to report such deaths regardless of whether they died at the facility or at a hospital.
Cuomo used his state’s manipulated statistics to claim that New York had a much lower nursing home fatality rate than other states with large COVID-19 outbreaks.
“Look at the basic facts where New York is versus other states,” Cuomo said in an August press conference, according to the Associated Press. “You look at where New York is as a percentage of nursing home deaths, it’s all the way at the bottom of the list.”
Cuomo did not specify in his Friday press conference what federal guidance directed his state to change the way it reported COVID-19 deaths from nursing home residents in May.
Cuomo suggested in his press conference Friday that it doesn’t matter whether a patient died in a nursing home or hospital.
“Whether a person died in a hospital or died in a nursing home, it’s the people dying. People died,” Cuomo said Friday.
Cuomo on nursing home deaths: “Who cares [where they died]? They died!” pic.twitter.com/VECpQNKF2I
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 29, 2021
“Who cares? … died in a hospital, died in a nursing home. They died,” Cuomo later added.